5 things I’d change about nursing schools

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The face of healthcare is evolving. We have the application of new healthcare systems, revamped healthcare insurance, an aging population and the increasing severity of illnesses, all of which require change.

Unfortunately, the profession of nursing is still playing catch-up. We seem to be stuck in a rut. Certain aspects of the traditional nursing education could use some attention and much-needed change. Here are five things I think nursing schools could address to meet these new challenges:

1. More time on evidence-based research, less time on care plans

While nursing schools emphasize the care we give on care plans, does anyone use them in practice? (I know I’ll hear a lot of grumbling from the educators out there for those words.) I firmly support the process by which care plans have helped put our knowledge into practice, but evidence-based practice is where the true measure of effect is seen in the delivery of our care.

2. More time on therapeutic communication, less time on bed baths

Don’t get me wrong: I think acquiring the skill of performing a bed bath is essential. It helps everyone learn good physical assessment skills. But if I have to choose between sharpening my bathing skills or effectively communicating with my patient and/or family, I’ll take the latter. Too often I find that nurses avoid necessary conversations simply because they don’t know how.

3. More time on professional development, less time on revering the past

I mean no disrespect, but it’s time to put the lamp on the shelf and take the next step in our evolution as a profession. We need to foster better professional skills and teach our nurses how to better navigate through their career paths, not just teach them how to get a job.

4. More time on team building (classroom and clinical), less time on individual performance

This is slowly happening, but we need to push it forward. We require our students to work on group projects as a means to build a team environment, but we need to step beyond the classroom and nurture their team building skills in the clinical settings. Teach them better task analyses, delegation, prioritization and, most importantly, firm and confident communication with other health care professionals.

5. More time on health care technology, less time on “writing narrative notes”

The electronic health record is now becoming the standard. We are delivering care with the aid of so many different pieces of technology that it’s hard to keep up with this exponential advancement. We need to build better confidence in using this technology so that we can be on the forefront of the next advancement.

It’s not a far leap, and it’s not a lot to ask. I strongly believe that the forefront of healthcare should and could be lead by nurses; we just have to stop playing catch-up.

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